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What to Know About Monkeypox and Schools

As educators and students begin a new school year, we must be vigilant about schools' response to this health emergency.
empty kindergarten classroom with yellow chairs
Published: August 15, 2022

The widening spread of monkeypox across the country is raising concerns with health officials, causing the declaration of a national health emergency by President Biden. As educators and students across the country return for the new school year, the NEA is urging equitable, expanded testing and vaccination to ensure the safety and health of our students, educators, families, and community. Our federal and state governments must work together and provide the information, support, vaccines, and tests in communities where access to the health care system is limited. 

Anyone can become infected with monkeypox, and as we learn more about the disease, we must be vigilant about preventing marginalization or stigmatization of populations at increased risk. As with all matters of public health, we are all in this together, and it is important to prevent misinformation and the kinds of despicable attacks on particular groups of people we have seen in previous public health emergencies. 

The NEA is calling for:  

  • Vaccines: Speeding up, securing, and widening equitable access to vaccines.   

  • Paid Leave: As with any illness, educators and students need leave that allows for full recovery and reduces the risk of transmission to others. Paid leave is crucial for all educators who need time off for their own illness or to care for family members. 

  • Education: Outreach and community education to increase awareness about the disease and how to reduce risk. This work must include information from public health officials on safer sex and transmission precautions and PPE in healthcare settings, keeping in mind the health care settings in schools, colleges, and universities.   

  • Contact Tracing and Testing: Instructing state public health agencies to develop protocols for contract tracing and testing and ensure that tests are readily available. 

  • School Guidance: National school guidance on monkeypox prevention, mitigation, and what to do if someone has been in close contact at school or in school sports.

All students have the right to safe in-person instruction. This country must use every available tool to keep our students and our educators safe. NEA remains committed to working together to ensure our local schools are the safest places in the community for every student, educator, and family. 

For more information on Monkeypox, visit these health expert websites: 

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Vaccine Resource Center

NEA encourages widespread use of safe and effective vaccines for educators and students. We've collected the following information and resources to help educators and parents make an informed decision about how best to protect our students.
National Education Association

Great public schools for every student

The National Education Association (NEA), the nation's largest professional employee organization, is committed to advancing the cause of public education. NEA's 3 million members work at every level of education—from pre-school to university graduate programs. NEA has affiliate organizations in every state and in more than 14,000 communities across the United States.